NFL Close Calls – Week 10
Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 10 of the NFL regular season including the epic Monday night affair in San Francisco.
Oakland Raiders (+1) 26, Los Angeles Chargers 24 (49): The Raiders led 20-17 through three quarters after the Chargers settled for a 27-yard field goal late in the third quarter. The next Los Angeles drive started with a sack but eventually finished in the end zone while taking more than eight minutes off the clock. Down four, Oakland would need a touchdown and Derek Carr led the offense down the field without facing a 3rd down until 3rd-and-1 from the 18-yard-line with just over a minute remaining. Josh Jacobs would break through and go the distance to put Oakland up by two and incredibly Daniel Carlson missed the PAT to leave the Chargers a chance to win with a field goal. That touchdown also put the total just ‘over’ hovering from 47½ to 49 during the week. The Chargers could only pick up five yards before Philip Rivers wound up intercepted with 20 seconds to go on 4th-and-10, his third pick of the day for a 3-0 turnover edge for the Raiders in a two-point win.
Tennessee Titans (+5) 35, Kansas City Chiefs 32 (48½): Patrick Mahomes likely returning was already baked into this spread opening at -3 but Kansas City climbed all the way to -6 in Nashville with the confirmation of last season’s MVP returning. Mahomes did not disappoint with huge numbers and a 63-yard touchdown put the Chiefs up by nine in the fourth quarter. Tennessee answered with a five-minute drive to get within two and then held the Chiefs to a field goal, with Kansas City incredibly leading by five on a closing line of five despite that being a rather uncommon football margin. The Titans had to go for it on 4th-and-17 from their own 32 and failed but the Chiefs weren’t able to close out the game, taking a sack on 3rd-and-short. A bad snap botched a field goal attempt to keep the margin at five and gave the Titans great field goal position with still more than a minute to go. Ryan Tannehill delivered the go-ahead score for the Titans in just four plays and the two-point conversion put the Titans up three. Handed only 23 seconds Mahomes got the Chiefs 28 yards but a 52-yard kick to force overtime was then blocked by Joshua Kalu, with either perfect or uncalled early timing depending on your perspective.
Cleveland Browns (-3) 19, Buffalo Bills 16 (42): Cleveland led 9-7 at halftime after being unable to punch in several attempts near the goal line to prevent a larger lead, though Buffalo also missed a 34-yard field goal before the break. A safety tied the game in the third quarter but Cleveland got a field goal to lead by three on a spread of -3, though -2½ was available early in the week. A holding call for the Bills cost them a first down late in the third quarter and Buffalo went for it on 4th-and-4 and came up short on the final play of the third quarter. The Bills got a solid punt return a few minutes later to land near midfield and was able to get in the end zone after some close calls with a recovered fumble and then a touchdown brought back on review. Down four the Browns gave up a defensive touchdown but on a review Baker Mayfield’s fumble was overturned to an incomplete shovel pass. Shortly after the two-minute warning Cleveland connected for the go-ahead score to leave the margin at three. Buffalo got in position to force overtime but Stephen Hauschka missed left from 53 yards for a costly Bills defeat and a push for most on the spread.
New York Jets (+3) 34, New York Giants 27 (43): There were big scoring swings in this contest with a 14-0 lead for the Jets but the Giants scoring twice before the break. The Jets got a defensive score in the third quarter but the Giants put back-to-back touchdowns together and led 27-24 heading into the fourth, right even with the closing spread with a big move on this game from the Jets opening as a slight favorite. The Jets closed the game on a 13-0 run as a productive overall day from Daniel Jones and the Giants offense finished with four punts and a fumble for 25 net yards on its final five possessions combined.
Green Bay Packers (-4½) 24, Carolina Panthers 16 (49): The Panthers scored first in this game but the Packers took over in the second half to lead 24-10 heading into the third quarter with two scores around an interception in the end zone from Kyle Allen. The Panthers scored with about 12 minutes to go and went for two unsuccessfully to trail by eight. The defense did its part forcing two Green Bay punts and Allen led an 18-play drive going 88 yards in the final three minutes. The Panthers needed 89 however as after getting new life after a defensive penalty on 4th down, the Panthers wound up with an incomplete pass and then one final chance. Christian McCaffrey went up the middle and may have crossed the plane narrowly but amidst bodies and a snow covered field, the clear video evidence of the ball crossing the chalk wasn’t there as the Green Bay escaped and Panthers backers were left a few points short.
Chicago Bears (-6½) 20, Detroit Lions 13 (38): Matthew Stafford was ruled out Sunday morning as this line shot from as low as -2½ up to -7 before settling at -6½ with Jeff Driskel starting. It was 7-6 at halftime but Mitchell Trubisky led two scoring drives in the third quarter for a 14-point edge. The Lions were productive with a big yardage edge and scored with six minutes to go on a big play to climb within seven. The Lions failed on 4th-and-11 near midfield ahead of the two-minute warning but the Bears only could run off 32 seconds. Down at their own 10, the Lions were able to make Bears and ‘under’ backers quite nervous reaching the Chicago 25 in the final seconds but the defense held up.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+4) 17, Los Angeles Rams 12 (43½): The Rams had two interceptions to start the second half but held defensively both times. A field goal put Los Angeles within four and Aaron Donald added a safety early in the fourth quarter, sitting down two to leave the Rams with a path to cover the road favorite number with a touchdown. The Steelers converted a 4th-and-1 from their own 34 in a huge play in this outcome and then recovered their own fumble on the very next play for another close call. Eventually the Steelers were able to add a 33-yard field goal to lead by five with fewer than three minutes remaining to seal the underdog cover in most scenarios. The Rams had two late possessions but the first ended with a 4th down incomplete pass while Jared Goff had another interception on the final drive. The most impactful play of the game ultimately came just before halftime with Jared Goff ruled to have fumbled and Pittsburgh returning it 43 yards for a touchdown when an incomplete pass has often been called on similar throwing motions.
Minnesota Vikings (+3) 28, Dallas Cowboys 24 (48): A 14-0 first quarter lead for the Vikings was erased in the second quarter but Minnesota added field goals on both sides of halftime. Amari Cooper got a touchdown midway through the third to put Dallas up one but the Vikings answered with eight, going for it on 4th-and-goal and also hitting the two-point conversion. Dallas was not as aggressive in its answer kicking a field goal with 10 minutes remaining to trail by four. In the final minute of the game Dallas would again face 4th-and-5 and could not find the end zone. Minnesota didn’t do enough to run much clock off and Dallas had the ball back near midfield. A few quick gains made for a reasonable Hail Mary try that was ultimately intercepted.
Seattle Seahawks (+6½) 27, San Francisco 49ers 24 (47): Week 10 saved the best for last with a thrilling showcase game in the NFC West Monday night. The undefeated 49ers looked the part as the league’s top team with a 10-0 first quarter lead. The game turned late in the second quarter with a defensive touchdown for Seattle to climb within three despite the offense struggling. Seattle held to get the ball back before halftime in great field position and DK Metclalf nearly took the Seahawks into the end zone with a long run after contact but he was incredibly stripped of the ball for a San Francisco touchback. Seattle also fumbled on its first drive out of the break but San Francisco stalled on the edge of field goal range and fell incomplete on 4th-and-2. Back-to-back turnovers led to two quick Seattle touchdowns but the momentum shifted back quickly as the 49ers had their own defensive score to make it 21-18 early in the fourth. San Francisco tied the game with a field goal at about the six-minute mark before matching field goals sent the game to overtime, with San Francisco’s late tying field goal securing the ‘over’ as well. The Seahawks hit a huge play on 3rd-and-16 and were in field goal range going first on overtime but Russell Wilson threw his second interception of the season. San Francisco looked poised to win but fill-in kicker Chase McLaughlin missed badly from 47, the same distance he hit from to force overtime. Punts followed as a tie looked possible but Wilson had a big scramble and hit a few short gains to allow Jason Myers to deliver from 42 yards as time expired for the upset.